When:1 - 24 November
New Work by Amardeep Shergill, recipient of the TAC 2017 Emerging Artist Support Scheme Award at ANU.
The exhibition explores possibility of re-interpretation of heritage through new materials and exploring familial connections and traditional craft making skills.
One day during the turbulent month of August 1947, Amar Singh (my Great-Grandfather) rides on a horseback towards his farm on the outskirts of village Manaka in Punjab. He carries with him the most valuable family possessions, wrapped into a bundle. He finds a secure spot in the middle of a field to hide the bundle which also contained hand embroidered Phulkaris by my great grandmother Dhan Kaur.
My Nani (grandmother) recalls that it rained that night and the bad weather continued for several days so all valuables were destroyed. The bundle of items were hidden away in case attackers or looters come to the village as the year of 1947 is an unforgettably painful historical event and the aftermath of this can still be felt today.
Leading up to month of August 1947 and beyond, millions of people were displaced by neatly drawn borders between their lives, lands, religions and possessions during the partition of India and Pakistan.
As my grandmother recited this story to me about three years ago, I came to realise that objects are another window into the stories of many lives and historical events. I became mindful of the value of one surviving phulkari which was handed down to me.
This year I decided to use the phulkari, made by my great grandmother Dhan Kaur, for inspiration to create new sculptural forms in this exhibition. It is my attempt to trace back through familial history and connect to the domestic craft making skill of phulkari, which once was central part of identity of a Punjabi woman. It is not my attempt to reproduce the fine skills of this craft in its original form which requires years of practice, however, I am able to re-interpret the patterns and colours into new forms and materials that I enjoy working with.
I often explore the notion of belonging and identity with theme of liminality and existing in between cultures. I took the opportunity of the EASS solo Exhibition award to dig into my family heritage and produce works of art which speak of mixed heritage, multiculturalism and moving forward with the past in our stride. So much of who we ‘believe’ ourselves to be is shaped by our environment and the past. Processions was an opportunity to explore connections, stories, craft making skills and memories of collective historical event which need to be told and retold to gain new perspectives.